This article was originally published on October 10, 2016.
I have always emphasized how important it is to do cardio in conjunction with any of my exercise routines. Cardio is necessary for our overall heart health and well-being. It is also necessary to burn fat so that all that muscle training and definition can be seen. You do get some cardio while lifting weights, but to really burn calories and fat, you need to have a regular cardio routine that is concentrated on getting the heart rate up. A lot of the time, we don’t want to add an additional trip to the gym or leave the house to get a run or bike ride in. Here is a quick 8-minute full body cardio routine you can do indoors that will get your heart pumping and burn those extra calories!
Split Squat Jumps– Stand up with your hands on your hips and your legs hip-distance apart. Split your legs so that one foot is forward and the other behind you in parallel. Bend both knees to squat down towards the ground. Your legs should be far enough apart enough so that when you squat down, your front knee does not pass the toes. Keep your hips square and back straight with your core engaged the entire time. You should only be on the ball of your foot in the back with the heel lifted. Jump up and switch your legs before you land so that the other leg is in front. Always land toe first, then heel. Keep jumping and switching legs for 30 seconds, trying to keep a quick pace. Make sure you are not holding your breath, and breathe naturally!
Pilates Leg Lifts- Standing with your legs in parallel hip-distance apart, hold your arms straight in front of you at shoulder height. Lift one knee up by pulling in the abdominals, and lower it back down to the ground with control, landing toe first then heel. Your goal is to get your knees to reach your elbows without compromising your upright posture. Lowering the leg is just as important as lifting it. Imagine that you have to be completely silent and no one can hear your foot landing on the ground. This will force you to use your abdominals to control the release and landing of the leg. Repeat on the other leg. Keep alternating legs for a full minute. Once you have the front leg lifts in parallel, you can move on to a turned out position with the legs. Start in a Pilates V for the second set with your heels together and toes apart. Your arms will be out to the sides this time, and you will lift each knee up with a turned out hip. Land each foot back in the same position it started in each time. Do this set for another minute.
Front Kicks– Start in a deep lunge with your left leg front. Reach your right hand to your left foot as you are down. Straighten your left leg as you stand up, kick your right leg in front of you while you reach your opposite arm to that foot. Repeat for a minute, going as slowly as you need to in the beginning to get your balance and coordination.
Side Kicks- Squat down with both arms in at your chest. You can hold your arms in at your chest or add some weights for more of a challenge. As you stand up, pull your right knee into your chest and kick it out to the side, leaning slightly to the left to get the leg up. When you bring the leg back in, reverse the movement by bending the leg in first before putting in back down in your squat. Repeat for one minute before switching to the other leg for another minute. This exercise will also challenge your core and balance while strengthening the glutes and outer thigh of the leg that’s kicking. Keep the pace quick to get your heart rate up.
Mountain Climbers– Go into a push-up position with your wrists right under your shoulders. Keep your sternum pulled up into your back to prevent sinking your shoulder blades. Alternate pulling your knees into your chest at a quick pace without letting your hips rise. Your abs will burn along with those calories. Do this for 30 seconds.
Burpees– Get into a plank position on your hands. Jump your feet in towards your hands to a squat position. Don’t let your hands leave the ground until your feet are completely grounded. Stand up as you jump into the air with your hands reaching above your head. As you return from the jump, fall right back down into your squat with your hands on the floor before kicking your legs back into your plank position. Repeat this series at a fast pace without stopping for one minute.
More cardio also means less stress and more feelings of happiness as your body releases endorphins. Do your body a favor, and try this 8-minute cardio routine today!
Also by Crystal: 4 Pilates Exercises for Knee Pain
Related: Does Yoga Give You Enough Cardio?
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Video: Crystal Chin; music: “Goodnight Gotham” by Rihanna